DiskInternals Flash Recovery Review

reviewed by Terry Bibo

This should be in every digital camera owner's toolbox. It is unbelievable in its simplicity of operation for its powerful results. It recovers digital images from flash cards or other media that have undergone disasters, intentional or unintentional. Files lost through deletion or card formatting are recovered with a few keystrokes long after the event.  DiskInternals Flash Recovery recognises hard-drives, external drives, cameras and flash memory devices such as SmartMedia , CompactFlash, Memory Stick, MicroDrive, xD Picture Card Flash Card, PC Card, Multimedia Card, Secure Digital Card, and many others. I think I have given it a fair test, and will detail my actions and results.

Running the program starts a Recovery Wizard that opens the way to select a drive to scan, choose the type of scan - fast or comprehensive -  choose the pictures to recover, and finally to choose the destination folder. By default this is My Pictures in My Documents.

For the primary tests I used two digital cameras with different cards, one a 256MB CompactFlash card (Card A) and the other a 128MB xD card (Card B). For additional tests I used another 16MB xD card (Card C) and a  32MB CF card (Card D) that I had lying around. I did not transfer the pictures directly to the PC, preferring to use a card reader for convenience and safety. When the camera, card reader, or memory stick is connected to the PC, normally the USB port, it is recognized as an external disk. Both the camera and the PC reported that there were no pictures on Card A, which I had long since cleared by deleting all pictures after successful transfer to the PC. When I ran DiskInternals Flash Recovery and selected the drive it then scanned memory and showed thumbnails of every picture that it found. And promptly recovered 35 of these non-existent pictures in full size with attributes.

Next came Card B, which showed I still had 8 pictures on the xD card. I had left them there after copying to the PC and was fully aware of their existence. I deleted two of these for the exercise and then ran  DiskInternals Flash Recovery. It found 26 unspoiled pictures of the past that I previewed but left unrecovered. That was 24 unknown pictures plus the two I had just deleted. I then moved the 6 remaining original pictures to the hard disk. Theoretically there were then no pictures on this card that the PC or camera could find.  DiskInternals Flash Recovery found and recovered 32 pictures - those previous 24 unknown plus the original 8.

I then formatted this xD card in the camera and from then on no program found any pictures of any kind. I shot three pictures on nominally blank Card C then immediately formatted the card in the camera. As above, no program found any pictures.The situation improved when I then shot three pictures on nominally blank Card D and immediately deleted them. DiskInternals Flash Recovery found and recovered these three plus another 29. Where to go from here?

Well, I then did a Quick Format on Card D in the PC. DiskInternals Flash Recovery found 29 files, but three of these were those I had just shot and had overwritten previous ones. The final test was a PC Full Format of Card D. DiskInternals Flash Recovery found 31 pictures. It can recover pictures after a quick format on the PC and, in the test immediately above, a full PC format. But each digital camera can format its memory card with its own method - quick or full - depending on the camera model. A deliberate full format.will destroy data entirely, as I saw on my cameras, but a quick reformat permits recovery.

DiskInternals Flash Recovery has an additional, very useful feature. Its Create Recovery Snapshot feature is able to create an image of all recovered pictures in a single file for transport to another drive. This is a binary mirror image of the scanned disk. Using the Mount Recovery Snapshot feature enables this image to be written to any other disk as a folder of the recovered pictures. It provides a very good temporary, or even permanent, backup for security against further misfortune.

I used other programs in this test to provide balance and comparison, and I can say that  DiskInternals Flash Recovery produced the best results with the minimum of effort and a very user-friendly presentation.

DiskInternals Flash Recovery 1.11 is available at http://diskinternals.com/flash-recovery/ for free evaluation. The price of registering the program is 34.95 US Dollars per copy.